PhD: The role of law in the people vs the planet debate with particular emphasis on selected case-studies linking with sustainable development goals

Northumbria University
Newcastle, United Kingdom
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
University/Academia/Research/Think tank
Experience Level: 
Not Specified
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)


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Project Description

With increasing pressure on natural resources and a growing global commitment to ensuring the survival of the commons for the benefit of future generations as well as national and local endeavours to preserve and protect terrestrial and marine environments and the flora and fauna therein, while also adopting measures that will meet international obligations on the delivery of economic, social and cultural rights, the potential for conflict between development needs and conservation agendas is constant. While the sustainable development goals (SDGs) are people focussed the relationship between people and the planet cannot be ignored and so the question is whether the law has any role to play in brokering sustainable co-existence. This studentship invites applicants to draw on specific case examples, research for which might be desk-based and/ or involve field work, and by locating these case-studies within the broader theoretical and policy contexts to explore the role and function of legal frameworks, including but not limited to, international treaties and conventions, national legal systems and mechanisms for the resolution of disputes. While not necessarily advocating legal transplants one of the aims of the research would be to identify good practice which might underpin future legal interventions, adopting where appropriate comparative perspectives.

The successful applicant would be expected to address the following issues:
- Background to SDGs
- Identify SDGs which are potentially conflictual in this context
- Demonstrate awareness of the human rights context
- Select and justify a particular case study (or case-studes if a comparative approach is to be taken)
- Engage with theories of development and socio-cultural narratives of peoples’ relationship with the environment
- Consider appropriate research methodologies to identify and address key issues
- Articulate a clear research question/questions
- Indicate the intended impact and originality of the proposal

This studentship links directly with the University Multi Disciplinary Theme: Environmental and Global Justice and the successful applicant would be expected to adopt a multi- disciplinary approach by linking with one or more of the three strands of the theme which bring together researchers across disciplines with a focus on justice for people, the planet, and agendas for development that account for both current and future generations.

Eligibility and How to Apply

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please ensure you quote the advert reference above on your application form.
Deadline for applications: 20 January 2017
Start Date: 2 October 2017

Northumbria University is an equal opportunities provider and in welcoming applications for studentships from all sectors of the community we strongly encourage applications from women and under-represented groups.

Funding Notes

This project is being considered for studentship funding in competition with other projects, available to applicants worldwide. The studentship includes a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates for 2017/18 (this is yet to be set, in 2016/17 this is £14,296 pa) and fees (Home/EU £4,350 / International £13,000 / International Lab-based £16,000). Additionally, as Northumbria celebrates its 25th anniversary as a University and in line with our international outlook, some projects may also be offered to students from outside of the EU supported by a half-fee reduction.


Weaving Intellectual Property Policy in Small Island Developing States with Miranda Forsyth, Intersentia, Cambridge, 2015

‘The challenges to human rights posed by threats to food security in the Pacific islands’ (2014) 12 New Zealand Yearbook of International Law, Canterbury University, Christchurch, 153-176

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